log retention

Mastering Log Retention Policy: A Guide to Securing Your Data

March 21, 2024
Written by
Bradley Chambers's Image

Bradley is an experienced IT professional with 15+ in the industry. At Cribl, he focuses ... Read Moreon building content that shows IT and security professionals how Cribl unlocks the value of all their observability data. Read Less

Categories: Learn

The strategic implementation of a security log retention policy is critical for safeguarding digital assets and key company data. This practice is foundational for detecting and analyzing security threats in real-time and conducting thorough post-event investigations.

Integrating the nuances of log analytics system costs, which escalate with data volume due to the infrastructure needed for storage and processing, highlights a critical aspect of security log retention. The evolution of technology offers solutions to mitigate these costs through innovative architectures that separate storage from compute, allowing for more cost-effective long-term data retention.

However managing data relevance is key, as storing unnecessary data can inflate costs. By refining log retention strategies, businesses can enhance security and resource efficiency, maintaining a strong defense aligned with fiscal responsibility.

Log Types

Understanding the myriad of logs generated by various systems in your company is crucial. From access logs that record user interactions to audit logs essential for compliance, each log type offers unique insights into an environment’s operational health and security posture. This section delves into the vital functions of the different types of logs. It highlights their importance in adhering to best practices for log retention and meeting the requirements of compliance frameworks such as ISO 27001 and SOC 2.

Access Logs

Access logs serve as the frontline in understanding user interactions with your system or network. They carefully document user requests, such as webpage visits or API calls, and the system’s response. These logs are vital for analyzing traffic patterns, identifying potential unauthorized access, and optimizing user experience.

System Logs

System logs offer a comprehensive view of the operating system’s activities, capturing errors, warnings, and informational messages. They are essential for diagnosing hardware and software issues, ensuring system stability, and performing preventive maintenance.

Server Logs

Server logs detail the operational aspects of servers, recording every request received and processed. This includes web server interactions, database queries, and application server operations. They are key to understanding server performance, troubleshooting issues, and security analysis.

Audit Logs

Audit logs provide a tamper-evident record of security-related events, such as login attempts, data access, and configuration changes. These logs are crucial for regulatory compliance, forensic analysis, and ensuring accountability within an organization.

Event Logs

Event logs capture a wide range of information across systems, applications, and security events. They include errors, warnings, and operational information, facilitating the monitoring of system health, security incident detection, and troubleshooting application issues.

Why is security log retention important?

The significance of maintaining security logs cannot be overstated in the intricate web of digital security. Beyond streamlining incident response, which enables organizations to diagnose and mitigate the impact of security breaches swiftly, security log retention is increasingly becoming a determining factor in acquiring cyber insurance policies. Insurance providers now meticulously evaluate an organization’s adherence to security best practices, including log retention, as part of their risk assessment processes.

Moreover, compliance with regulatory standards such as ISO 27001 and SOC 2 is contingent upon an organization’s ability to prove they have maintained a comprehensive log of all security-related events. This involves storing these logs for a mandated period and ensuring their integrity and accessibility. Such practices are essential for meeting legal and regulatory requirements and preserving the trust of customers and stakeholders, ensuring the long-term resilience and security of the digital ecosystem.

Log Retention Best Practices

Adopting best practices in log retention is essential for bolstering security measures and enhancing data management efficiency in the face of rapidly increasing data volumes. Here’s how organizations can navigate this landscape:

Determine What To Log

Identify and log all critical data across your systems. This comprehensive approach ensures thorough monitoring and analysis capabilities, capturing every essential interaction and transaction to mitigate security risks and operational inefficiencies.

Data Lakes are Critical to Survive Data Growth

Given the exponential growth of data, employing Data Lakes is vital. These repositories accommodate the massive influx of structured and unstructured data, providing a scalable and cost-effective storage solution that keeps pace with a 28% CAGR in data volumes.

Store Everything, but Don’t Store It in Your SIEM

While capturing extensive logs is crucial, storing everything in your Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) system can be impractical and expensive. Instead, leverage Data Lakes for long-term storage, using SIEM for real-time analysis and threat detection.

Utilize Advanced Search Tools for Data Analysis

Implement next-generation search tools, such as Cribl Search, to analyze data at rest efficiently. This strategy enables organizations to focus on extracting only the most relevant information from their vast data repositories, streamlining the detection of security threats and operational insights.

By adhering to these best practices, organizations can effectively manage their log retention strategies, ensuring security, compliance, and ops excellence.

How does Cribl handle security log retention?

Cribl’s approach to managing security log retention embodies a forward-thinking strategy aimed at optimizing data management and enhancing security posture. Recognizing the challenges of traditional log systems, which often become cost-prohibitive due to their triple-duty roles, Cribl advocates for a more nuanced approach to data handling.

Cribl Stream

Using Cribl Stream, the company encourages customizing the processing and routing of each data source type based on its content, value, and purpose. This method allows for more efficient log management by storing some data as metrics, others in indexed log tools, or directing them to low-cost storage solutions. Certain non-essential data can even be dropped altogether, significantly reducing license and storage costs without compromising the benefits derived from critical data.

Cribl Edge

Cribl Edge is a modern, vendor-neutral observability agent that’s pivotal for managing data at the edge of networks. It’s designed for the cloud era, offering centralized management and automated discovery of logs and metrics. This approach allows for significant flexibility and control over data, catering to modern distributed microservice architectures.

Cribl Edge facilitates efficient data collection and transformation by enabling data exploration closer to its source, ensuring that only relevant data is processed and routed to appropriate tools or storage solutions. This strategy aligns with optimizing observability and telemetry data management, avoiding vendor lock-in, and reducing overall costs.

Cribl Search

Cribl’s innovative stance extends to employing Cribl Search. This tool is designed to transform how data is searched by enabling searches directly from the source. This capability allows for the discovery and analysis of data across major object stores like Amazon S3, Amazon Security Lake, Azure Blob, and Google Cloud Storage, as well as querying live API endpoints from various SaaS providers.

By focusing on searching data in-place and leveraging federated search capabilities, Cribl Search facilitates a streamlined, cost-effective approach to data analysis without needing to move the data first.

Wrap up

To effectively wrap up our exploration of log retention strategies, it’s essential to reiterate the critical importance of a robust log retention policy. Integrating the advanced capabilities of Cribl’s suite of products offers a comprehensive solution to meet and exceed the stringent requirements of ISO 27001 and SOC 2 for security log retention.

By adhering to best practices in log retention, organizations can ensure the integrity of audit logs, streamline log management, and bolster their security posture against incidents. Emphasizing a proactive approach to log storage, processing, and analysis ensures compliance with legal requirements and fortifies the audit trail.



Cribl, the Data Engine for IT and Security, empowers organizations to transform their data strategy. Customers use Cribl’s suite of products to collect, process, route, and analyze all IT and security data, delivering the flexibility, choice, and control required to adapt to their ever-changing needs.

We offer free training, certifications, and a free tier across our products. Our community Slack features Cribl engineers, partners, and customers who can answer your questions as you get started and continue to build and evolve. We also offer a variety of hands-on Sandboxes for those interested in how companies globally leverage our products for their data challenges.

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